In 1976, Joan Barnes—a California mom frustrated with the lack of spaces where she could take her kids for safe and age-appropriate play time—took matters into her own hands and founded Gymboree Play and Music. In the decades since Gymboree’s founding, Joan’s vision of a safe place where youngsters could build confidence and creativity has come to fruition and spread to 30 countries around the globe. Staffed by attentive and expertly trained instructors, each Gymboree outpost adheres to a curriculum of activities designed by experts to foster the development of children's cognitive, physical, and social skills through structured play and close readings of Goodnight Moon. The staffers also conduct entertaining classes for parents, newborns, and children under 1 year that cover subjects ranging from music to sports, imparting valuable lessons of imagination and physical activity to developing minds. To further set apart her business, Barnes employed nationally renowned playground designer Jay Beckwith to design the proprietary play equipment at her centers.
Veterans of the bowling industry since 1954, the Ayles family ushered in numerous improvements to Shore Lanes Bowling Center when they assumed ownership in 1985. Among the modern amenities, 26 synthetic lanes feature automatic bumpers and scoring computers that track each player's strikes and spares. Concessions and drinks from a snack-and-spirits bar refuel guests between frames, and John's Pro Shop stocks an array of balls, bags, and shoes for bowlers to perfect their game by bribing better bowlers with new balls, bags, or shoes.
The masterminds behind Keansburg Amusement Park, located just off the beach, oversee a park designed to turn a day out with the family during warm weather months into a mini vacation. By dotting the park with roller coasters, go-karts, arcades, and classic boardwalk fare, the owners seem to have realized their vision while also addressing the interests of different-aged groups. Families can glide around the park's classic carousel, and kids ride the colorful Jolly Caterpillar before he presumably morphs into a butterfly at closing time. Some of the park's newer attractions include a fleet of bumper cars and the Rocking Tug ride. With its more than 35 rides, the park has garnered accolades such as Best of New Jersey from the readers of NJ Monthly Magazine, as well as a 2011 Best of Monmouth County from the readers of Asbury Park Press.
Hole in One Miniature Golf helps families and friends escape daily stresses by careening them across a well-maintained 18-hole course filled with tumbling waterfalls, trickling streams, and other scenic obstacles. As an added bonus, the course features plenty of lighting, meaning rounds can extend well past when the sun goes down and stars begin to poke out of their sky shells. Away from the course, a snack bar dishes out thin-crust pizzas?a Hole in One specialty.
Claw machines, pinball, and row after row of redemption games blanket the confines of The Game Room. Once inside, visitors find themselves surrounded with the electronic lights and sounds of various games of chance, which spew countless tickets. At the prize counter, those tickets turn into rewards such as stuffed animals. The Game Room also hosts special events, including double-ticket days and skee-ball tournaments.